Our Lady of Guadalupe honored by Manahawkin students

December 13, 2023 at 2:54 p.m.
Kindergarten students in St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin, begin a school prayer service by leading a procession with roses for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12 wearing homemade tilmas to signify that of Juan Diego, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared. Courtesy photo
Kindergarten students in St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin, begin a school prayer service by leading a procession with roses for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12 wearing homemade tilmas to signify that of Juan Diego, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared. Courtesy photo

By EMMALEE ITALIA
Contributing Editor

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, is gaining recognition among the youngest members of the Catholic Church attending St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin. Students and faculty celebrated as a community Dec. 12 with an Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer service, as it has done annually since the academy opened in 2019.

PHOTO GALLERY: Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Service

“Our school was named after the Blessed Mother, and this is another beautiful way to show the children a devotion to Mary,” said Lizanne Coyne, school principal. “St. Mary Parish has a very active and religious Spanish population and as a result the Spanish population is growing within our school.”

The prayer service included a procession with the kindergarten class placing roses before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the school community sang “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman.” Students recited two decades of the Rosary, alternating between English and Spanish, followed by a closing prayer by Father Walter Quiceno, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat. First and second graders also sang “Magnificat” for those in attendance.

“Celebrating and doing two decades of the Rosary in Spanish not only improves the children’s Spanish speaking skills, but it also helps them to connect the differing cultures within the school,” Coyne explained.

Sixth grader Abigail Arias helped lead one of the Rosary decades. “I think it is important for all of us to know how other cultures celebrate various feast days,” she said, noting that the service helped her to “improve my formal Spanish skills, and it enables non-Spanish students in our school to better relate to and speak with the Spanish population in our school and parish.”

Although Arias’ father is from Honduras and speaks mostly Spanish, her family doesn’t participate in many of the Catholic Spanish celebrations. “I have led the school [in praying the Rosary] for the past three years,” she said. “I enjoy celebrating and participating because my family is directly impacted as we are a dual-[language] household … so this celebration honors my heritage.”

Nellie Guadagnoli, eighth grade, led one of the English language Rosary decades as well as the Hail Holy Queen prayer. It was important for her to celebrate the feast because “When the Blessed Mother came to Juan Diego she spoke to him in Spanish. For the Spanish population in our school and parish, this is a lovely way for us all to represent the prayers in their culture.”

As a younger student, Guadagnoli “watched the videos of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Now that I can pray in Spanish, I feel more connected to the story … I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to participate and lead by example.”

Coyne hoped that students would recognize from the prayer service that “Mary speaks to and cares for all people with different languages, backgrounds and cultures.

“There are different levels of devotion,” she pointed out, “and this is another way for the children to learn and to grow in their faith.”



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The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, is gaining recognition among the youngest members of the Catholic Church attending St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin. Students and faculty celebrated as a community Dec. 12 with an Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer service, as it has done annually since the academy opened in 2019.

PHOTO GALLERY: Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Service

“Our school was named after the Blessed Mother, and this is another beautiful way to show the children a devotion to Mary,” said Lizanne Coyne, school principal. “St. Mary Parish has a very active and religious Spanish population and as a result the Spanish population is growing within our school.”

The prayer service included a procession with the kindergarten class placing roses before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the school community sang “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman.” Students recited two decades of the Rosary, alternating between English and Spanish, followed by a closing prayer by Father Walter Quiceno, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat. First and second graders also sang “Magnificat” for those in attendance.

“Celebrating and doing two decades of the Rosary in Spanish not only improves the children’s Spanish speaking skills, but it also helps them to connect the differing cultures within the school,” Coyne explained.

Sixth grader Abigail Arias helped lead one of the Rosary decades. “I think it is important for all of us to know how other cultures celebrate various feast days,” she said, noting that the service helped her to “improve my formal Spanish skills, and it enables non-Spanish students in our school to better relate to and speak with the Spanish population in our school and parish.”

Although Arias’ father is from Honduras and speaks mostly Spanish, her family doesn’t participate in many of the Catholic Spanish celebrations. “I have led the school [in praying the Rosary] for the past three years,” she said. “I enjoy celebrating and participating because my family is directly impacted as we are a dual-[language] household … so this celebration honors my heritage.”

Nellie Guadagnoli, eighth grade, led one of the English language Rosary decades as well as the Hail Holy Queen prayer. It was important for her to celebrate the feast because “When the Blessed Mother came to Juan Diego she spoke to him in Spanish. For the Spanish population in our school and parish, this is a lovely way for us all to represent the prayers in their culture.”

As a younger student, Guadagnoli “watched the videos of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Now that I can pray in Spanish, I feel more connected to the story … I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to participate and lead by example.”

Coyne hoped that students would recognize from the prayer service that “Mary speaks to and cares for all people with different languages, backgrounds and cultures.

“There are different levels of devotion,” she pointed out, “and this is another way for the children to learn and to grow in their faith.”


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